PTLens: Correct Verticals, Barrel Distortion, Vignetting, Chromatic Aberration

November 4th, 2009

Several recent questions and comments from readers made me realize that the posts I have on PTLens are several years old. Ever since I’ve been doing this blog I’ve been recommending PTLens as an alternative for fixing verticals and barrel distortion but as of the summer of 2008 Tom Niemann released a version of PTLens that to me made it the top choice for correcting verticals, barrel distortion.

Here’s why I think PTLens is the ideal real estate photographers tool for using with Lightroom:

  1. It automatically fixes barrel distortion based on EXIF data. That is it recognizes which lens you used and knows how to fix barrel distortion for that particular lens. PTlens a huge database of the most common lenses included. If you have a lens that’s not in it’s database (not likely) you can create some calibration images, send them to Tom and he will add them to the DB for you. For wide-angle lenses Tom claims that it does a better job since PTLens uses up to 3 parameters to correct distortion where PS only uses 1 parameter
  2. It can fix converging verticals every bit as as nicely as the “Distort>Lens Correction…” in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
  3. The stand alone version has a batch mode that will do barrel distortion processing on all the images in a folder. The only other lens correction software that does this is DxO that costs in the neighborhood of $200 depending what camera body you have.
  4. It is available for Windows, Vista and Mac OS X 10.5.2 or higher (Intel hardware only) and can run on Unix using a Windows simulator.
  5. It works as a external editor for Lightroom ( version 2.0 and over), Aperture 2.1 and Photoshop, plus you get a stand alone version. In Lightroom you can make PTLens corrections and then come back into Lightroom and adjust RAW settings.
  6. It cost $25!

What all this means is that for most beginning real estate photographers Lightroom and PTLens is all the post processing software you need. The only area this combination doesn’t address is cloning out unwanted objects and using layer masks to control window exposures and replacing skies. These last three areas are techniques that take more time and are more advanced techniques.

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12 Responses to “PTLens: Correct Verticals, Barrel Distortion, Vignetting, Chromatic Aberration”

  • I use this all the time. In fact 90% of my work is done between Photomatix (for exposure blending), lightroom and ptlens. It’s awesome and really doesn’t cost much!

    Photoshop is truly for the crazy difficult cases, or for non RE work.

  • Use it all the time. Had previously purchased DxO but the application did not recognize the lens I was using. As suggested put in a request (3 – over a period of a year) for the lens to be added but that has not happened. Purchased PTLens at 1/8 the cost and it recognized all my lens immediately. It is fast and easy to use. I do not hesitate to recommend it.

  • so this does work if I am using PS? looks like Photomatix, lightroom and PTLense are the way to go for RE. RE is the smallest portion of the work I do, but I really love it and want to keep improving. thanks for the post and comments! cheers-

  • thanks
    goods fo info

  • Basic PTLens questions:
    1. How bring in only one file? When I attempt, I get all the files in the folder.
    2. How remove file(s) after finished? Only way I have found is to delete from disk, which I don’t want to do.

  • Thanks so much. I ended up reinstalling LensFix and now it is working fine…after a whole day of frustration. But I guess that is all part of learning.

  • I have a few questions on making PTLens faster and easier

    1. Can I set up a keyboard shortcut in LR to open PT w/o using the mouse commands?
    2. Are there gridlines in PT? I’ve been using PS Transform Command for awhile now with grid lines dragged out, and it’s become too slow a technique for the volume I’m picking up, and need to switch to PT. But I’m just eyeballing my verticals, made more difficult by the small preview and the black edges. I’ll bring it back to LR and realize the edge of a wall or cabinet isn’t paralell to the edge of the photo, and have to do it again. Does it have that, or am I missing an option? Is there any other software that has a more accurate vertical correction feature?

    Thanks for the continuing great info

  • @Anonymous- Photoshop Transform, PTlens and DxO are the three primary ways to straighten verticals. It’s a matter of taste as to which you use. There are a lot of fans of each. PTlens is very popular and for $25 the best way is to just try it out… for the money it’s hard to beat.

    Grid: Yes, it has a grid and you can control what size the grid is.
    Keyboard Shortcuts: Nothing built into LR but there are many keyboard shortcut programs for whatever operating system you have.

  • wow it only cost $25. Nice.

  • Last post is early one year old ? Is the still available ?

  • @Gitta- Yes, PTlens is still available see: It works as a stand alone program or a plugin from Aperture 3.

  • Has anyone found PTLens to be terrible at correcting chromatic aberration? Adobe Camera Raw does a much better job IMHO

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